MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The trial judge ruled the third-degree murder charge will be reinstated in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is charged in the death in George Floyd.
Court proceedings started at 8 a.m. Thursday with a hearing on preliminary motions, before moving on to jury selection at 9 a.m. The trial is being streamed live, gavel to gavel, at fox9.com/live.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys will continue to question and challenge potential jurors until they can seat a 12-person jury, with two alternates.
3rd-degree murder charge reinstated
Following arguments Thursday morning, trial judge Peter Cahill ruled the third-degree murder charge will be reinstated in Chauvin's case.
In a ruling Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied the petition filed by Chauvin’s team, meaning the decision to add the charge was to be determined by Judge Cahill.
The push to reinstate the charge came after the Court of Appeals ruled in February a third-degree murder charge was appropriate in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who was convicted in a deadly 2017 shooting.
During arguments Thursday morning, Neal Katyal, co-counsel for the state, said Cahill was duty bound to reinstate the charge due to precedence from the Noor case.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson, however, argued that Cahill was not duty bound by precedence if the cases are "factually distinguishable," pointing out that in Noor's case he put others in danger by firing a gun.
Cahill reiterated Noor and Chauvin are factually different cases, but because the Court of Appeals has defined that third-degree murder can be targeted at a single person, it is the law of Minnesota right now.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is leading the prosecution, supported the decision to reinstate the charge.
"The charge of 3rd-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin," said Ellison in a statement. "We look forward to presenting all three charges to the jury."
Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder, but Cahill dismissed the charge last October, saying it did not apply to this case. The state hoped the appeals court would overrule that decision.
Chauvin is now charged with third-degree murder, second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for his role in Floyd’s death last May.
Judge Peter Cahill told the selected jurors to go home and not to do any reading or research about the case in the coming weeks. He told them to report back to the courthouse on March 29 at 9 a.m., saying he is confident the trial will begin at that time.
Each prospective juror was assigned a randomized number when they filled out the 14-page questionnaire, which asked them about their knowledge of the case, police connections and attitudes towards the justice system as well as their media habits. Both sides agreed to dismiss 16 of the first 50 prospective jurors for cause on Monday based on their answers to the questionnaire.
READ MORE: Who are the selected jurors?
Thao, Lane won't testify at Chauvin trial
The attorneys for two of the former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane, are not permitting them to testify in Chauvin's trial.
Thao and Lane both gave tape-recorded voluntary statements to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, counseled by their attorneys, and signed a criminal investigation warning understanding that their statements could be used against them.
In court Wednesday morning, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, said he confirmed with each of the former officers' attorneys on Tuesday night that they are "not permitting their clients to testify in the trial."
Nelson was discussing his motion to exclude both statements in the trial, arguing that he would not be able to cross examine either former officer. Prosecutors argued experts rely on those statements.
Cahill did not make a full ruling on the motion, but he did say he will allow experts who testify at the trial to say they reviewed those statements.
Derek Chauvin charges
Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter for his role in George Floyd’s death last May.
He was initially charged with third-degree murder as well, but Judge Cahill dismissed the charge last October, saying it did not apply to this case.
The prosecution decided to push back on the third-degree murder charge after the Court of Appeals upheld the third-degree murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in a deadly 2017 shooting. Cahill denied the state's motion to reinstate the third-degree murder charge, standing by his decision to dismiss the charge. However, the Court of Appeals ruled Cahill made the mistake of not following the Noor ruling as precedence.
"The district court therefore erred by concluding that it was not bound by the principles of law set forth in Noor and by denying the state’s motion to reinstate the charge of third-degree murder on that basis," read the order.
Cahill eventually reinstated the third-degree murder charge after rulings by the Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
Chauvin trial streaming and TV information
The Chauvin trial will be live streamed, gavel to gavel, at fox9.com/live and the FOX 9 News App. You can also find the FOX 9 stream on Tubi through connected TVs. Portions of the trial are likely to be carried live by several broadcast networks as well as Court TV.
The Derek Chauvin trial is being held in Courtroom 1856 of the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis. During jury selection, until all the preliminary motions are heard by Judge Cahill, court will start at 8 a.m. with a hearing on preliminary motions, before moving on to jury selection at 9 a.m.
QUICK READ: Derek Chauvin trial essential info and FAQs
Jury selection process
To decide the jury, prosecutors and Chauvin’s defense attorneys will question each potential juror one at a time, separately from the others.
Each potential juror has already filled out a questionnaire asking about their knowledge of the case, police connections and attitudes towards the justice system as well as their media habits, which will be provided to the attorneys and the judge before jury selection.
Jury to remain anonymous
Potential jurors and jurors will only be referred to by a random, previously assigned number because Judge Cahill has ordered their identities to remain a secret for the duration of the trial. At the conclusion of the trial, Judge Cahill will decide when the jurors’ identities can be made public.
The jury will be partially sequestered during the trial and fully sequestered while they are deliberating, which means they cannot go home until they reach a verdict or the judge determines they are hung. However, the judge can order full sequestration of the jury at any time if the partial sequestration proves ineffective in keeping the jurors free from outside influence.
Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin on March 29. A verdict in the Chauvin trial is not expected until mid to late April.
Who is in the courtroom?
Trial Judge Peter Cahill
1 judge's clerk
1 court reporter
Derek Chauvin, the defendant
The jury. The empaneled jury will consist of 12 jurors and 2 alternates.
Up to 4 lawyers or staff for the prosecution, led by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson and up to 2 staff from his law firm
1 witness at a time in the courtroom
1 George Floyd family member
1 Derek Chauvin family member
2 members of pooled media - 1 print and 1 broadcast or digital media
1 broadcast technician
Courtroom 1856 was renovated specifically for the Derek Chauvin trial to maximize capacity and maintain COVID-19 social distancing standards. The courtroom is located on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center.
Judge Cahill has ordered certain behavior in the courtroom:
Jurors, attorneys, witnesses and support staff must wear masks and keep six feet from other people.
Masks can be removed when giving testimony, examining witnesses, giving opening statements or closing arguments. Attorneys must conduct all witness examinations and arguments from the lectern.
Any sidebar conferences will be conducted over wireless headsets. Chauvin will be outfitted with a headset to listen to these conferences, which will be off-the-record.
Jurors and potential jurors will be escorted to courtroom each day by deputies or security. No one can have contact with jurors except the judge, court personnel and deputies. Any attorney contact is limited to the jury selection process when court is in session.
Potential jurors will only be referred to by a randomized number.
Death of George Floyd
George Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020 while being detained by Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. The intersection has remained closed to traffic since Floyd's death and has been dubbed George Floyd Square.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 17: People participate in a demonstration on August 17, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Community members came together for a rally to protest the city's potential forceful reopening 38th Street and Chicago Ave, an unofficial
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced the firing of all four officers the following day. Chauvin was arrested and charged with Floyd’s death on May 29 and the three others were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting on June 3.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's report ruled the death of George Floyd a homicide. The updated report stated that George Floyd experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement.